Review | Evoc Neo Protector 16L Backpack

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Hannah reviews the EVOC Neo – A Backpack With Protection.

I’m a fan of having a back pack on – I like having something between my back and the ground when I crash. Yes, I mean when I crash. I seem to have developed something of a habit of tucking and rolling as I fall – meaning having a backpack on gives a useful layer of protection. Better than just any old backpack, then, is one with a built in back protector. Which is what we have here.

Evoc Neo Protector
Room for everything for most rides.

It’s a fairly heavy pack – before you’ve loaded it up with anything, it’s got a heft to it (1.65kg/3.64lbs without a bladder). It does squash down nice and flat though, and you can use the helmet carrying straps to compress the pack. There’s a main internal section with simple pouch for a bladder (not included), and a small mesh zipper pocket for easy access to valuables.

Evoc Neo Protector
Pockets open right out for easy access.

Behind the front helmet stow area, there’s another pocket that opens out completely to reveal two opaque family flat plastic zipped pouches – handy for first aid materials – and a series of stretchy pockets, including two elasticated loops for holding a pump. There’s plenty of room here for all the tools you could need, plus maybe a snack bar or two.

I like the space for a pump. Handy.

Elsewhere, there’s fleece lined pocket on the top of the bag, which has a couple more stretchy pockets in it. Both sides of the pack have a stretchy mesh pocket big enough for a woolly hat, pair of gloves or small emergency shelter, The left hip strap has a tother stretchy pocket – such as you might shove wrappers into mid race – and the right has a small zipped pocket – for a multi tool perhaps? Since the pocket is on the outside of a padded section, you shouldn’t need to worry about landing on it.

These hip strap pockets are on the outside of what it quite a substantial waist strap – with starts off with two padded ears, then joins into a large Velcro-like waist band over which you click another buckled strap into place. The upper part of the bag is secured by a chest strap which joins the two padded shoulders straps together and stops them slipping sideways on your shoulders.

Lastly, there’s the back protector itself. Rubbery and with plenty of ventilation, it stands away from the back of the pack, allowing a good degree of airflow. It will also be replaced for free under Evoc’s crash replacement scheme, should you need it.

Evoc Neo Protector
The back protector element is under a crash replacement scheme.

On The Trail

Evoc Neo Protector 16L whistle
The chest strap has a whistle on it.

This pack stays where you put it. Stuff it full, or cinch it down as a back protector on an empty bag, it doesn’t wriggle around once you done up those straps. It’s comfortable, nothing digs in, and there’s no need to do everything up so tight that you’d trussed up like a Sunday roast. No doubt the rubbery back protector helps with that – it grips to you a little, rather than sliding around like a fabric back plate can. All that padding in the straps gives the pack a nice cushioned feel, comfortable to wear, and reassuring for crashing onto.

While it might feel heavy to pick up, once on the weight seems well distributed and I’ve managed to carry plenty of gubbins without feeling uncomfortable. It’s not a huge volume pack and the main compartment is quite slim, so on a big day out you might have to pack your tupperware, jacket and spare tube and extra banana with a little care.

The main section is fairly slim, but opens out so you don’t have to root to the bottom.
You can get most tool essentials in here, though I kept a tube in the main section.

The rain cover seemed effective enough, and I liked the fact it matched the colour scheme of the rest of the pack, however it did cover the the rear light I had on the light point on the back of the pack – something to bear in mind for wet, dark nights.

The secure fitting of the pack did have a downside – it’s a bit of a faff to get the pack off and round and your phone out for a quick photo, and there’s nowhere for keeping a phone that you can get to without taking the pack off. I’ve previously had a Deuter pack with a phone pocket in the side, up against the back protector – which I found a reassuring spot to have my phone, rather than in the top pocket that this pack offers. That fleece line pocket is right where I’m likely to commence my forward roll in the event of a crash, so it doesn’t feel like a great place to keep my phone.

Evoc Neo Protector
Two step waist attachment.
Evoc Neo Protector
Clunk click
I used the chin bar/helmet strap a lot.

While the straps for the helmet/chin bar pouch have the benefit of a) holding your helmet in place and b) compressing the pack, they do need to be unclipped if you want to access the pockets. Between this and the level of attachment to your back, this isn’t a great pack for if you’re always dipping in and out of your kit while on a ride. If you’re less of a faffer and just want to know that you’ve got your stuff if you need it, this is easy to wear and will fit the kit carrying needs of most rides.

Overall

Evoc Neo Protector
Comfy enough for every ride.

I’ve had quite a few comments of ‘what are you carrying in that enormous pack?’, and I’m always surprised. It doesn’t feel huge on my back – in fact I barely notice it’s there as it’s so stable and the weight nicely distributed. Consequently, I currently wear it on every ride…so hopefully when I next crash, I’ll be able to hop straight back up and on my bike. Fingers crossed.

Review Info

Brand: Evoc
Product: Neo Protector 16L
From: www.zyrofisher.co.uk
Price: £229.99
Tested: by Hannah for 2 months
Author Profile Picture
Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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